MasterCard and Visa won’t automatically allow you run a co-brand prepaid card without approving the card design. After all their brand is on the card and they are not going to have it associated with a design they don’t approve of. This process causes endless frustration for programme managers (link). Not only does it slow the process down, but both card associations can reject a card design for the oddest reasons.
It needn’t be that frustrating though, if you follow some basic steps. I’ve outlined the steps for MasterCard. I’ll do the same for Visa another day.
The card programme must already be registered. This is done by completing a xxxx and submitting it to your issuing bank who in turn will submit it to MasterCard
Create a basic card design in a vector design programme (Freehand, Illustrator are two) matching these basic specifications. Don’t bother with trying to put in MasterCard logos or holograms. The card manufacturer will do that for you
Send your card design to your chosen card manufacturer. Often your prepaid processor will facilitate this for you. Card manufacturers must be certified by MasterCard so any old card manufacturer will not do
The card manufacturer will take your design, tidy it up to meet any local and international MasterCard requirements, pop in the correct MasterCard logo and send you back a proof for you to sign off. Some manufacturers will prepare elaborate chromalins for you to sign off. Most will just send through a PDF
The card manufacturer will then put your design “online”. That means they will submit it to MasterCard for approval through a web-based system called MasterCard Online. A division of MasterCard, normally referred to as Franchise, will review your design. In many cases this team will not be in your country. Whether they accept or reject the design, the response will go back to the card manufacturer. It won’t be sent directly back to you as the programme manager. Their response will look something like this: (insert example)
If approved, you are on your way and the card manufacturer can start producing cards. If rejected, the reason can often be cryptic. Rejections based on design are easier to correct and resubmit. Rejections based on trademark issues or MasterCard rules governing text on the card are harder to fathom. Your local MasterCard office can normally translate these for you
You may go through multiple rejections before getting approved